Life lessons, Brazilian business men and all the clothes (at once).

Foods

So its been a while. Like a really long while. And I kind of feel like a kid who’s dog ate their homework (because that totes really happens), full of excuses, a little bit of regret and a tone of catching up.

I have successfully landed in the world of Percy Pigs, endless cups of tea and stupidly cold temperatures (aka London), but for the last few weeks India has been my home. Although rich with colourful saris, motorbikes and cows (oh so many cows), what it lacks is wifi. Like seriously India, how’s a girl meant to blog? More importantly, how’s a girl meant to check her Facebook?! After my www-detox I’m back, and excited to start my post-adventure adventure along side some old friends (hey guys), and to share all that deep and meaningful crap I’ve picked up along my way around the world. (Think Eat Pray Love minus the Brazilian businessman).

So, lets start with the biggest lesson I learnt while traveling. Drumroll please…

I am happiest, and my body feels, looks and acts its best when I fuel it with clean, lean and fresh things.

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Do you feel let down? Like almost a year into writing health blog I should probably have figured this out already? Yeah, me too. But then again, putting the opposite of this personal mantra into action over the last 57 days proved to underline, highlight and completely scream its importance. The ramifications of taking even the smallest of health related back tracks completely shocked me. Even more shocking however, is the thought that there are people (and heaps of them) who live everyday feeling as tired, deflated, down and uncomfortable as I did – and it’s their choice. There is nothing like a hike around the world to make you reevaluate personal priorities and remind yourself of what really matters (to you). To me, it is health and healing myself through food.

Food was a huge part of our adventure. It was often the sole reason for stopping places (armed with scrappy handwritten lists of famous dishes). I attempted to eat healthy, to stick to my paleo ways, but so often that little voice in my head would mutter “oh but you’re on holiday”, or “how often will you be in Cambodia?” etc.

Damn that voice. Because I got sick.

Like hospital-visits-in-the-middle-of-the-night-trying-to-sign-language-symptoms-to-a-Vietnamese-doctor sick.

To put it simply, I learnt that no amount of special occasions, tasty sounding food or even ‘once in a lifetime’ trips are worth risking my health. And further more, that what I put into my body is the key to feeling great, and you won’t enjoy said occasions, food or trips if you don’t feel great.

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After two months of clogging up my delicate (and kinda temperamental) body with rich creamy curries, oodles of noodles and spice filled delicacies (can we say “bloated”), I’m seeing this next phase in my life as a chance to cleanse. To fill my life (and my stomach) with the right choices and get back to the energy levels, clear skin and healthy, happy feeling that I was striving for in New Zealand.

How many times do you (even when you’re not on holiday) head for a treat? Excuse bad health with the pre tense of a one off event? Well, from now on, for me, I have decided it isn’t worth it (and hopefully I can inspire you to do the same). Friday night? Well, I will think a little harder about Saturday morning. Going out for dinner? I’m yet to find a spot that doesn’t either have some scrummy veggies on the menu, or isn’t willing to swap things around to add some. Craving a treat? Load up with some toasted cashews (straight from the oven of course). Lets take this seasonal, whole food journey together. Lets explore recipes and celebrate ingredients together. Lets whinge about how hard it all is whilst looking smugly at those chowing down on Maccas… (you guessed it)… together. You and me baby – I can’t wait.

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But first things first, I’ve just arrived at my grans semi-detached cottage (down a leafy London lane – bliss) and I’m having myself a cup of green tea and a ruddy salad.

Oh, and putting on a jumper. And a pair of socks. And coat. Scarf. Gloves. Yes, I am indoors.

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Heart attacks, cheap eats and all the quails.

Hawker

I usually update you guys on the amazing cuisine in Auckland, but (as you may have picked up) I’m not actually IN Auckland currently. As the boy and I travel, we’ve had a checklist, a kid of culinary ‘to do’. Not masterminded by me (I’m having a hard enough time trying to tick “paleo” off as is), but from the boy. Our adventures have be a sort of foodie tour of South East Asia, with decisions on places to stop being made purely based on where historically makes tasty noms. My personal tour guide is quite partial to hawkers markets, or street vendors (despite every warning against this) and I’ve found it to be one of the best ways to truly chuck yourself in the deep end, (both culturally and digestively) and discover the real essence behind a city. So, for my readers in this area (or my readers heading this way), I give you my two favourite street markets spots (so far).

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Gluttons Bay – Singapore

This hawkers centre is very well documented, but still, it deserves the hype. What serves as the ‘creme de la creme’ of Singaporean street food, bands together to create a buzz of finger lickin’ traditional fare, right on the (rather breathtaking) water front of Singapore.

When we headed here we completely lucked out and happened upon an installation art exhibition (that quite literally lit up the sky) going on along Marina Bay too.

For this, our first Friday traveling, the boy decided we had to have the most decadent looking dish available, chilli crab. This is a Singaporean specialty consisting of an actual whole crab just hanging out in a pile of delicately spicy, full bodied, tomato sauce. It was swimming in so much of the stuff I swear it had died by drowning. Paired with sticky rice and crispy sweet buns for my dinner date (no sexual reference intended), this messy but oh-so-much-fun dish left us wanting more.

Other notable Singaporean dishes worth a try are chicken rice, oyster omelet and carrot cake (which is neither a cake, nor contains carrots – who ever named that was on something whack).

Soak up the sounds of Singapore whilst sipping on a coconut, but be prepared to fight (like really, really hard) for a table.

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Night Markets – Trang

This little spot was almost over looked! We only stopped in Trang for one night (as most do). It’s a sort of transit town for tourists heading to Thai Islands. Lucky for us, our one night also happened to be a Friday, the evening the small patch of town right outside the rundown train station (and, it turns out, our equally run down digs for the night) comes alive with food, fashions, and odd trinkets galore.

Eating here was like dinner and a show all rolled up into one, with small elderly ladies making fresh roti, whole fish slung on coals and squid kebabs going round the barbie. Everywhere you looked there was something amazing to watch and some new oddity to taste. Often food choices were a bit of a lucky dip, not understanding the offerings (just the price – the price always seems to be easy to translate), but none were a disappointment.

I settled on a papaya salad, mixed up in front of my eyes (and allowing my control over spice levels – thank god), fried quail eggs and big chunks of watermelon for dessert. Needless to say, I was one insanely happy camper as this was my first proper healthy style eating since we had set off on our travels. Also, all that probably came to under $2.50 (NZ), leaving plenty of money for other things (these “things” may or may not have been a new handbag*). The boy, who doesn’t give two hoots about healthy, went for spicy squid, quail egg money bags (we are yet to discover where all the quails were hiding) and a sweet roti filled with banana and covered in not only chocolate, but sugar and condensed milk too (aka heart attack on a plate).

I don’t know whether it was because we had absolutely no expectation of this little town, or because the food was spectacular, or because I finally felt nourished in a healthy way, but this was one of my favourite food memories on our adventure.

*Ok, ok, they were definitely a new handbag.

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The month that was.

March

March has zipped by and I’m still not quite sure how I fitted everything in. Six different cities, eight modes of transport, one family reunion and (as always) way too much food. Follow me on Instagram here for what will continue to be a sneak peak of my adventures around Asia and India. With lots of food. Like lots.

Pimple cures, ego deflating and my (new) bestie.

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You know that phrase, the one featured in like every sappy 90s love song (or any love song at all for that matter), the one about not knowing what you’ve got… ‘Till it’s gone? Well I’m suffering from that a little right now. To friends and family back home – you can stop that head of yours getting any bigger, because I’m not talking about you. I’m talking about lemons.

Yup. Do you know how hard it is to hunt down a damn lemon in Asia? I don’t know if I’m looking in all the wrong places (and yes, I looked in fruit shops, supermarkets and even asked at restaurants), but I could barely find any. This doesn’t sound like much of a drama right? Well, I guess it’s not on the scale of life events (weddings, children and lemon draughts will probably make my obituary), but it has made me realise that lemons are one bloody brilliant fruit.

For the last 12 months in NZ I’ve been consistently guzzling a glass of water with the juice from half a lemon and a tablespoon of Apple cider vinegar every morning (except a few hungover occasions that we won’t talk about). To be honest, I didn’t really understand the good it was doing me. I just kind of did it, because (like any good blogger) I read somewhere online that it’s super duper for all things digestive and helps out your skin too. (And yes, if the internet told me to jump off a bridge, I probably would do that as well).

Lemons

As much as I wanted to squeeze 9 weeks worth of lemons and ACV into my luggage, the boy had already been lenient with my packing quoter (he double checked the necessity of each item in my bag and even let me keep the third pair of shoes), so I decided to test my life – lemon free. Well, you know what? My life is oh-so much better with a little acid in the morning.

Even just a few days in from my morning ritual hiatus, I notices more spots. A week in and my skin tone was hella blotchy, and food was aching my tummy (this could also be because I’m traveling south East Asia… Or, you know, lemons are magic). Three weeks in and I’m reminded of my sixteen year old self, and not in a good way (in a hormones expressing themselves through my pores sort of way).

As well as doing wonders for your skin, lemons claim to boost your immune system (with all that tasty vitamin C), balance out your PH levels (aiding healthy digestion and knocking out toxins) and even reduce inflammation in joints!

So, when I stumble upon these citrus fruits on my journeys around the orient, Im buying as many as I think will stay good, and strapping them to the side of my already overflowing pack. I’ve even started using the juice directly on a pimple to clear it up quick (when I’m done drinking it obviously).

To all you people who are spending up large on fancy name skincare brands that promise to rid you of acne for life, save a buck or two and go to your local grocers* to pick up some lemons. Maybe some apple cider vinegar too – but that’s a love story for a different day.

*unless your in Asia, then good luck to ya!

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Mondayitis

MondayTee

My time as a Fashion Editor is often spent in pursuit of the archetypal wardrobe must have. And, although I can never quite cut that list down from my 387 strong clothing collection, to some what more manageable number (like 10), there is one piece that I’m even more convinced than ever should be in everybodies (men and women alike – hell, maybe even small dogs too) closet… I’m talking (of course) about the classic T-shirt.

This Monday, like so many before it, I felt like I had nothing to wear. My traveling pack has began mimicking my everyday wardrobe; it’s stuffed, scrunched and piled high with a tousled mix of clean and dirty clothes (and some “undecided”), all of which just don’t seem quite right for the day ahead. But you know what would fix that? Whether you too are living out of a suitcase, or a badly organised wardrobe? The perfectly fitting, loose but not-too-loose, T-shirt.

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For me it would fix the dilemma that comes with temple touring – it’s so freaking hot, but you have to cover your knees and shoulders (and it would be an added bonus if you could still look cute for those travel pictures). For you it would master the art of looking chic and sophisticated at work (pair a crisp white tee with a well fitted blazer then layer up the statement necklaces).

Basically all sartorial choices would just be so much more enhanced with a T-shirt shaped partner.

So, please T-shirt gods, set me up with a good scoop neck, cuffed sleeve, boyfriend fit, and I will be forever in your grey marl debt. And officially snapped out of my Monday morning blues too.

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Wet therapy, tiny spaces and the worlds least active human.

Workout

My family and friends are still in disbelief that I actually write a blog with an element of exercise to it. I’ve gone from being the worlds least active human (when I was a teenager) to being addicted to running, boot camps, bikram and anything else that likely to make me sweaty (get your mind out of the gutter). I completely love it all. Exercise not only plays a role in my physical wellbeing, but a huge role in my mental wellbeing. It’s like therapy (wet therapy). So, traveling around, going from backpackers to small hotel rooms, has left me without my usual variety of incredible running and workout back drops! But I would never let that stop me – no, no, no.

I created myself a series of ‘small place friendly’ workouts before I headed off. So, if you find yourself in a tight spot – here are a couple of workouts to help you keep moving.

Indoor Cardio Booster

Cardio can be one of the hardest things to tackle in a small space. When there isn’t a gym full of treadmills or a vast open space to run around, people tend to just skip the heart rate rising cardio set. But you don’t have to! Try this workout… the key is to do each round as fast as you can and only rest when indicated. If you are competitive (like me) time yourself and try and beat yourself each round.

  • 10 x burpees
  • 10 x star jumps
  • 10 x mountain climbers
  • 10 x high jumps

30 SECOND REST

  • 25 x burpees
  • 25 x star jumps
  • 25 x mountain climbers
  • 25 x high jumps

30 SECOND REST

(Repeat both sets again, then follow with a nice stretch out.)

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Body Weight Strength Session: 10 to 1

Mix up that awesome cardio set with some strength training on alternate days. Don’t worry, no dumbbells needed… just you and your body. This one is super easy to change up depending on what you want to do. Fancy a full on leg day? Why not do squat jumps and lunges or kick backs and side raisers. Abs need a workout? Give v-sits and leg lowers a trial. Play around with it and have fun (very sweaty painful fun).

  • 10 squats – 1 push up
  • 9 squats – 2 push ups
  • 8 squats – 3 push ups
  • 7 squats – 4 push ups
  • 6 squats – 5 push ups
  • 5 squats – 6 push ups
  • 4 squats – 7 push ups
  • 3 squats – 8 push ups
  • 2 squats – 9 push ups
  • 1 squat – 10 push ups

To add an element of cardio, inbetween each set either sprint the length of your hotel room (if its long-ish) or do 10 x star jumps.

(Finish up with a nice stretch out.)

Top Travel Tip: One thing I made sure I found a wee bit of space for in my pack was a skipping rope. It’s not huge, it packs up small and its a great one for getting that heart rate up! Either break up one of the above work outs with 20 second skipping bursts or just go hard out for as long as you can – just you and your jump rope.

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Mondayitis

MondayLeopard

It is Monday, although (just to rub it in) days of the week are kind of smooshing (yup, that is a word) into one big unidentifiable blob right now. After four blissful nights at a beautiful beach resort, I have not one tiny inkling of Mondayitis… but being the lovely and giving human that I am (hey – I saw that eye roll) I’ve been thinking about some nifty things that could brighten the start of your week.

I’m about to head onto an overnight train from Ko Lanta to Bangkok, to see my family. (Yes, yes, I can hear you all gasping… I’ve only just left them, how am I already homesick? Well, don’t underestimate the power of my “mummy/daddies girl” combo. If the boy would let me, I’d probably try and fit them both in my back pack.) My mother is celebrating a pretty big birthday (woop, woop – happy twenty first mum) and as a family, we are coming together in Thailand to have a knees up just for her.

To keep up with these celebrations, I thought I would do what every good daughter does for her mother on her birthday – disobey her. You see, my mother used to tell me that tattoos were for sailors or prostitutes, and animal print was tacky*. Well, last year I got a tattoo, so I guess it’s time I whipped out my best Mrs Robinson impression, don’t you? Leopard print has long since left the realms of cougar-only wardrobes and has been seriously welcomed into the fashion elite (not that it ever left Donattela’s life).

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Just like Kate and Wills’, denim and leopard is a match made in heaven. The love affair between two heavy duty fabrics is the fashion equivalent of a commoner marrying into the royal family. The play of dressy vs casual, of plain vs out there, and of workwear vs um…play-wear… (?) strikes a brilliant balance. Taking the simple pairing of skinny jeans with a classic white tee and throwing on some (fake) animal skin heels really shakes up your look and lifts your style game. Other noteworthy partners for your lovely leopard pieces are camel (think traditional style trench) and leather (think texture combination to die for).

So, this Monday, in order to fight off your morning blues I suggest you all (maybe not you dad) throw on some animal inspired prints and act like Pippa isn’t the only hot piece of ass.

*Now, before I start getting angrily worded emails, please note that my mother has a fabulous sense of humour and this is a running family joke. NOT a comment meant to make sailors, prostitutes or wearers of animals cry.

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Mondayitis

MondayCoats

Despite the heat here in NZ, and the rather intimidatingly hot weather that will greet me off the plane tomorrow (yes, I said tomorrow… and yes I’m freaking out about it). All I can think about (mostly because I prescribe to the theory of “if your scared of something, ignore it and it will go away”), is what I will face when I finally finish my round the world adventures, and land in Europe.

Having lived in Auckland for 13 years, one thing I’ve very rarely needed is a coat. This will no longer be the case as I gear up for British winters (hell, even British summers). And to be honest? I bloody love dressing for the chilly seasons. Don’t get me wrong, hot sunny weather is great, but in winter I physically get to wear more clothes – win.

Drowning in cashmere, swaddled in chunky knits and investing in buttery soft leather as I sip on my Monday morning coffee – the life inside my head right now is pretty damn perfect.

What would complete the winter wonderland I’m creating is an all-engulfing coat. The kind that’s pretty much a dress, is very much oversized and looks best with a chunky belt (think Coco Chanel styles). I recon coats like this, in either bold prints or scream-your-head-off loud colours, will be big for winter months to come.

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With a backpack filled to the brim with flip flops, tanks and shorts, I’m well and truly terrified of the heat wave I’m spending the next two months playing in. So, in line with my amazing avoidance theory, I’m dreaming of nestling up by the fire, and falling into a coat (that will probably be bigger than my London apartment).

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Mondayitis

MondayShorts

The boy has started to make fun of my latest claim. You see, what used to be my excuse for shopping up large (“oh but I never have anything to wear”) has now been replaced with “that would be perfect for Asia”. Almost everything I spy can some how be slipped into my perfect travel wardrobe.

The latest at the tippy-top of my list is definitely a pair of humble shorts. But the dream shorts for Asia are quite different to your usual denim cut offs – oh yes. These shorts have to work for their place in my pack (well, they don’t really, they just have to look like they do, so I can sell the idea to the boy and not get the stink eye when I buy a new thing).

So what do these illusive perfect shorts have? They have a delicate but fun print to set off my newly emerging tan. They have a loose fit, with a tight waist (so I don’t have to worry about rearranging or dreaded sweat stuck clothes). They are short enough to keep the air flowing, but long enough to allow for some serious tramping (without showing my knickers). They need to be made of something super lightweight so that they can dry quick-slick AND they need to be so comfortable I forget I’m wearing them (in a feels-like-pjs way, not a shit-I-forgot-my-pants way).

So, when you discover those guys, can you chuck them my way? Because that would really pick me up out of my Monday morning funk.

Ta!

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Mondayitis

MondayKimono

Firstly, I’m really, really sorry to all you guys over there in freezing-your-socks-off USA and soggy old UK. I know it’s cold where you are and this might be a little tough to stomach. But… it’s so freaking hot in NZ right now that I’m melting. Like a Brothers Grimm witch.

And what’s worse than how hot it is right now? How hot it is going to be in India when the boy and I rock up in a month.

It’s going to be the hottest month of the year, it’s a tourist low (yay) because the heat LITERALLY scares people away (not yay). I am terrified. I don’t look good sweaty. (Does anyone? No, no they don’t.) Just to kick me when I am down (or hot), I have to cover up. So, at the one moment in time that I will feel like belting out Nelly’s “its getting hot in herre* (so hot), so take off all your clothes”, I have to do more than keep on all my clothes, I have to wear more than usual.

Luckily, to calm my panicked mind, there is a new(ish) trend around. One that lends itself to a dilemma just like this. (Less so to the dilemmas facing other, winter stricken, countries.)

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There’s no two ways about it, kimono’s are oh-so hot right now.

This light-weight, loose-fitting jacket-meets-robe can take any outfit (think skinny jeans, shorts, shift dresses, pencil skirt, etc, etc – aka it goes with all the things) from average to amazing in a heart beat. Making kimono’s a (stupidly hot) Mondayitis buster.

Screw your old cardi, these are more than just a bright, breezy and comfortable way to finish an outfit, they are a modern way to update your entire wardrobe (can you tell I’m a big fan).

So, when a caffeine hit won’t do, and (like me) you’re suffering from a little unfashionable sweat-face, give one of these babies a go.

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*Dad – before you fire me off an email about my terrible spelling, this is how Nelly chooses to spell the lyrics of his song. Maybe you should email him? He probably needs a solid father figure with an aptitude for perfect spelling and grammar to steer him in the right direction in life.

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